Research and publications listings

Scotland's digital economy facts

Big data - Photo by Pixabay

Digital economy in Scotland

Latest stats and facts on Scotland's digital economy. Published April 2019.

Industry profile

Scotland's digital economy extends to software, information technology, digital communications, digital media, electronics, sensors and photonics.

The sector includes successful businesses originally grown in Scotland that have attracted international capital, such as Skyscanner, FanDuel and Leidos, as well as major foreign direct investments, such as Hewlett Packard, Fujitsu and IBM.

The sector is active all across Scotland, but Edinburgh is considered the "Digital Capital" with the University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics ranking among the best in the world, fostering a dynamic start-up scene and attracting global venture capital.

Given Scotland’s established capabilities, there is a strong focus on addressing growing opportunities in sensor systems and data analytics. While related areas such as "mobility as a service" and fintech also present exciting opportunities.

Kate Forbes, Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy, visits Natantis at Heriot Watt University

Scottish digital economy stats

10,945 companies

6.2% of Scotland's total companies (2018)

83,000 employment

3.2% of Scotland's total employment (2017)

£5.7bn GVA

4.2% of Scotland's GVA (2016)

£3.6bn exports

11% of Scotland's total international exports (2017)

£388m R&D

31.1% of Scotland's BERD (2017)

Person wearing VR smartphone headset inside a room - Photo by stephan sorkin on Unsplash

Opportunities for innovation

Gaming (e.g. Rockstar North, Outplay Entertainment) and analogue semiconductors (e.g. Cirrus Logic, ST Microelectronics) are well-established niches, while cyber security is one of the fastest growing new areas, with university spin-outs like ZoneFox taking innovation to global markets.

The sector is supported by Innovation Centres including:

The development of the sector is championed through the cluster
management organisations Scotland IS and Technology Scotland.

Company insight

Digital economy* companies surveyed between January and March 2019
Performance last 6 months
  • 63% reported increased turnover
  • 47% reported improved profitability
Expectations next 6 months
  • 47% expect to grow exports
  • 68% expect to add staff

*using creative industries as closest available reported proxy

SAS staff at work in their Glasgow offices.

Need help to grow your business?

Get in touch with our advisers for tailored support.